The Internet is a highly anonymous space, and various services can be used while hiding personal information as much as possible. When using the network, the “IP address”, which can be said to be the user’s address, is used. Is it possible to identify the user’s location from the IP address?
This article provides an overview of IP addresses, the information that can be obtained from IP addresses, and the risks of leaks.
■What is an IP address?
IP address is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol Address, and refers to a string of numbers assigned to identify computers such as personal computers and smartphones on networks that use the IP protocol.
On the Internet, IP addresses are used to identify communication partners when sending/receiving e-mails or browsing websites.
In other words, an IP address plays a role like an address on a network.
In recent years, due to the spread of smartphones and the spread of IoT (Internet of Things), the conventional IP address system has become insufficient in number. For this reason, IPv6 (8 character strings composed of 4 digit alphanumeric characters) has come to be used instead of IPv4 (4 sets of numbers consisting of numbers 0 to 255), which has been mainstream until now. .
IPv4 example: 192.168.1.1
IPv6 example: 2001:0db9:3334:1209: ab8d: eeof: 2223:0013
■ Types of IP addresses
IP addresses are broadly divided into two types: global IP addresses and private IP addresses. Let’s take a closer look at each type to see what the differences are.
◇ Global IP address that connects directly to the Internet
A global IP address is an IP address that is used when connecting directly to the Internet. Since the global IP address is unique in the world, the same IP address is never assigned.
For example, the global IP address is the address of the building, just like there are no buildings with the same address in the world. In the real world, in the case of multi-family housing such as condominiums, the room number is included as part of the address to identify the individual residence. On the other hand, in the digital world, you can think of it as the private IP address described below.
There are also two ways to assign IP addresses.
dynamic IP address
A dynamic IP address is a type of IP address that changes under certain conditions. It is mainly used at home when connecting to a provider. Also, a different global IP address may be assigned when you reconnect to the Internet or after a certain amount of time has passed.
static IP address
It is used for things that are troublesome if the IP address changes, such as public servers for websites and mail servers.
◇Private IP address not directly connected to the Internet
A private IP address is an IP address that is used in an independent network (local network) such as an in-house network or a home network.
For example, if you use the same Wi-Fi router at home, there is only one global IP address. On the other hand, there are as many private IP addresses as there are devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones.
However, a private IP address alone cannot connect directly to the Internet. Therefore, a function called NAT (Network Address Translation) is used. If you set this function on your router, your private IP address will be converted to a global IP address and you will be able to connect to the Internet.
Since private IP addresses are used within a closed network, the same private IP address may be used by other households or companies.
Is it possible to identify the location and personal information from the IP address?
Basically, detailed addresses and personal information cannot be identified from IP addresses.
IP addresses are controlled by a worldwide organization called ICANN. IP addresses are assigned by ICANN to JPNIC, the administrative organization in Japan, and then to operators.
Since ICANN publishes the IP address allocation table, it should be possible to identify the country by checking against the allocation table. Also, there are services that look up information on prefectures and businesses from IP addresses, so you may be able to narrow down the area to a certain extent.
However, the IP address allocation table published by ICANN is frequently updated, and personal information is protected by business operators. Therefore, it is almost impossible to identify addresses and personal information from IP addresses.
■ What information can be obtained from an IP address?
The information obtained from the IP address includes the user’s region, corporate information, OS, browser type, provider, etc.
However, access to information is basically limited to providers and administrators of connected websites and services. The administrators of various services obtain this information from IP addresses in order to help improve and improve the services.
What are the bad effects of exposing your IP address?
If IP address information becomes known to malicious third parties, it may be used for unauthorized access or cyberattacks.
Although the detailed address is not known from the IP address, it is possible to grasp the area like “Setagaya Ward, Tokyo”. If a company can identify a user’s location information to some extent, it will be possible to generate revenue by, for example, providing area-specific ad distribution and pricing.